Waste Not, Want Not: Tetra Pak’s Strategies for Creating Resilient Food Systems
December 11, 2023
Food loss and waste have a global impact—negatively influencing water and land use, labor, capital investment, and climate.
According to the United Nations, 13 percent of food produced around the world is lost between the time it is harvested and when it reaches store shelves. And this doesn’t even take waste in retail environments, restaurants, and households into account.
We sat down with Eric Harris, Tetra Pak’s Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the United States and Canada, to better understand the problem of food loss and waste and highlight solutions to address this pressing issue.
Q: What role does Tetra Pak play in developing resilient food systems?
A: As Tetra Pak is actively contributing to the transition toward more secure, sustainable, and resilient global food systems, I am very pleased to see the topic has a full, dedicated day at COP28. Tetra Pak’s commitment and contributions to developing resilient food systems globally align with four key pathways:
Enabling the Transition Towards More Sustainable Dairy
Tetra Pak recognizes the importance of dairy production and consumption in food systems. We are working with our partners in the industry to focus on addressing the environmental impact of dairy processing while enabling a transition toward more sustainable dairy practices. For instance, just by installing Tetra Pak processing equipment, dairy farmers can reduce their environmental footprint.
Innovating for New Food Sources
Tetra Pak collaborates with the aim of advancing innovation in and the development of alternative protein sources. This pathway seeks to create alternative protein sources with less resource-intensive supply chains than conventional proteins, contributing to diversifying food sources, enhancing sustainability, and building resilience against potential disruptions in supply chains.
Reducing Food Loss and Waste
Tetra Pak contributes to reducing food loss and waste through the development of food processing technologies. The company actively works on solutions that help minimize food loss during production and turn side-streams into value-added products. Additionally, Tetra Pak’s aseptic packaging solutions play a role in reducing food waste by extending the shelf life of perishable products. This emphasis on efficiency and waste reduction enhances the overall resilience of the food system.
Scaling Access to Safe Nutrition via Sustainable Food Packaging
Tetra Pak knows firsthand the essential role of food packaging in ensuring food safety and accessibility, and we are committed to scaling access to safe nutrition globally by developing and promoting sustainable food packaging solutions. These solutions not only minimize environmental impact but also contribute to preserving food quality and enhancing the circularity of resources. Sustainable packaging is integral to building resilient food systems.
Q: What are the main drivers of food insecurity in different regions of the world?
A: The main drivers of food insecurity include climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and pressures on freshwater sources. Additionally, social and economic challenges, including poverty, inequality, and conflicts, contribute to food insecurity. Tetra Pak’s recently released white paper emphasizes the need for a just transition in local food value chains and universal access to safe, nutritious food to address these drivers.
Q: How can we improve the efficiency and sustainability of food production systems?
A: Improving the efficiency and sustainability of food production systems involves implementing regenerative and circular practices. Tetra Pak’s proposed shifts, such as ecologically increased productivity, reducing food loss, and adopting low-to-no carbon energy supply, will contribute to more sustainable and efficient food production systems.
Q: What are the best practices for reducing food waste and loss along the supply chain?
A: Tetra Pak advocates for reducing food loss and waste by adopting circular economy principles. Best practices include developing technologies to extend the shelf life of perishable foods, promoting awareness campaigns to reduce food waste at the household level, and implementing circular end products like packaging to minimize environmental impact.
Q: How can we enhance the resilience of food systems to shocks and stresses such as climate change, conflicts, and pandemics?
A: To enhance the resilience of food systems, Tetra Pak emphasizes securing biodiversity, ecological health, and adopting circular value chains. Key shifts like safeguarding food availability with domestic supply and improving access to affordable healthy foods contribute to resilience against shocks, including those related to climate change, conflicts, and pandemics, are critical.